Two women who found a billboard on a national highway with the words ‘Fear Fokol’ offensive and crude, have won their case.
The Advertising Regulatory Board who was asked to consider the complaint lodged by Michelle Stoltz and Jolande de Beer ruled in their favour, and ordered the advertiser - iCar Technologies (Pty) Ltd - to either remove the advert or amend it.
The Armoured Mobility billboard was affixed to the Cydonia Road bridge across the N3 Highway.
In their complaint, the women said the word “Fokol” is considered crude and offensive.
They said that it was “not appropriate” for this word to appear on a billboard where children are likely to view it.
iCar Technologies, said its intention was not to offend, but to adopt an innovative and attention-grabbing approach to convey a powerful message.
They further argued that ‘Fokol’ was not a swear word if understood through the South African context.
“It is a word that has been used across media platforms and Parliament.”
They added that in a world where safety is of paramount importance, the advert invited South Africans to consider a new level of security while on the road.
In its ruling, the the Directorate of the ARB found that the advert was likely to be seen by children.
“The question therefore becomes whether this billboard is likely to be potentially harmful to children, or encourage them to believe that using the word “FOKOL” is acceptable.“
The ARB said while it was an Afrikaans word, both English speaking and Afrikaans speaking parents would not find it acceptable for their children to use this phrase.
“In essence, it is considered a vulgar word, generally regarded as unacceptable for children to use, or be exposed to indiscriminately.”
They noted that the billboard appears on one of Gauteng’s busiest highways.
“If the advert appeared in a magazine aimed at adults it wouldn’t have elicited such a complaint.”
The advertiser was ordered to remove or amend the advert with immediate effect.